Something that's become immensely satisfying as I've got older is the ability to speak my mind.
I don't mean actually voicing an opinion or criticising or even taking umbrage at someone jumping the queue. What I mean is the ability to, at one end of the spectrum tell a woman I think she's beautiful and at the other end, to tell a fucking idiot that he's a moronic little twat.
In the era I grew up in and the education system I was taught in, you were absolutely NOT allowed to answer back. This is, even now, in theory a good practice. On paper this means discipline, respect for authority and the ability to learn without muddying the waters. In actuality it means ignorance, frustration and the words of bullies holding sway because you aren't allowed to question their actions openly.
A recent case that I wholeheartedly agree with involved a Headmaster at a Secondary school who suspended a female student for refusing to stand up when he entered the room. He had reintroduced an old school rule that said pupils must do this when he came into their class. This girl repeatedly refused and despite numerous warnings wouldn't do it...so she got sent home for a few days. Her father was in the news, spouting he had "taught my daughter that respect is earned."
Err...dickhead. That's the HEADMASTER!!!
I agree with the decision to suspend her as this was a rule, she was given numerous attempts to follow it and sanctions had to follow when she didn't. Her father is/ was clearly a twonk. However...what would have been awful was punishment had she merely voiced disdain at the rule or shown displeasure at its existence. After all, kids need to learn to be able to express themselves and everyone is entitled to an opinion.
When I went to school you were in theory allowed an opinion. However it had to be a "sensible" opinion that the wankers in charge actually agreed you had the right to hold. One day the Deputy Head (a foul old bitch named Mrs Wolstenholme) asked my class why we didn't like wearing uniforms. A brave boy piped up that it took away our individuality. The "conversation" then went like this:
Mrs W: "RUBBISH! We don't' tell you what to think or what to say or what to believe in do we? Do we? DO WE?!!"
Pupil: "Err...Well...I suppose not."
Mrs W: "Well what are you arguing for then?"
As I grew up I would be introduced to various family members and friends of my parents (usually those of my mother) who would feel they had every right to criticise my appearance/ taste in music or films/ hair cut yet would splutter indiginantly and complain loudly to my folks if I was even remotely flippant in response. The vindictive, obese whale from THIS STORY was notorious for gobbing off about my family's shortcomings, especially me and my brother, yet hated any and all criticism of herself, her dopey husband, or her two hideous daughters.
One line that was most grating was "You don't mind do you?" usually asked rhetorically while staring at you. Teachers specialised in this one. You were damned if you did and damned if you didn't because "No" meant you lost out but "Yes" was cheeky and would result in at the very least a telling off about how selfish you were.
When I was about 10 my parents gave me and my brother chores to do around the house. This was fine and dandy and good grounding in not being lazy. However, if one of us forgot/ couldn't be arsed to do a chore, then it would default to the other. My mother was heard on several occasions rhetorically barking "Would you rather I did it?!" a question that ultimately had to be answered in the negative because "Yes" would mean she would actually do it, and then refuse to speak to whoever had passed the buck to her, sometimes for up to a week.
Instead of sitting down (or even standing up) with people to ask them how they felt, some folks back then just loved to deny others the right to say how they felt. It wasn't that they would merely decry their beliefs, they would actually refuse to let them speak up.
In social interactions the ability to be tactful is one thing. When your girlfriend or wife asks "Do these earrings make me look fat?" then the answer should always be "No" without hesitation (means you're thinking about it) or elaboration (leaves room for misunderstanding/ picking a fight).
When my teachers went on strike in 1987 and we had to go home, it came on the tail of them also refusing to cover lunch breaks, which Dinner Ladies couldn't do on their own due to the legal implications. We had to go home for lunch, come back, register as present, and THEN fuck off home again. A few people didn't do that and just stayed home. The next day Mrs Cunt...I mean Wolstenhome, got everyone in the canteen and asked those who'd missed afternoon register why they'd not come back. Anyone without a doctor's note was given detention and told they were stupid. When it was discreetly pointed out that the teachers themselves were breaking the rules the icy reply given was "We're going on strike for you, are you too stupid to see that?!"
No one answered.
Life seemed to be a cycle of not telling the truth. This also extended to "not sulking" when out in company. Not that anyone gave a shit about the sulker's reasons for sulking, they just thought the sulker should smother his or her own feelings so they didn't' bring the mood down for everyone else. After all, the last thing anyone wanted to see was a pouting, unhappy face when they were trying to have a good time.
Now when I'm out and people ask me "How are you?" I tell the truth. If I'm feeling OK I'll say so. However if I'm not I'll say that too. An English pleasantry that is only meant to have one answer ("Fine thank you, how are you?"). When you say "A bit shit, I'm knackered to be honest!" people sometimes react as if you'd just farted.
Telling the truth can be quite liberating. I feel sorriest for people who work in retail because they are obliged to be 'nice' to horrible cunts, even if the horrible cunts have long since voided the right to be spoken to kindly. In the
retail staff appear to have the right to say "Excuse me Sir but I'm not
going to continue this conversation as you are being abusive and I'm going to
have to ask you to leave". In the UK
some retail employees have a CONTRACTUAL DUTY to be nice to people, no matter
how they are treated. Four years ago I saw a member of staff at take abuse off an irate,
bullying cunt who'd been charged for the car park without realising it when
he'd booked online. When he tried it with me I told him to go fuck himself and
called him and his wife "a couple of fucking twats". Once
they'd gone the staff member thanked me while giggling and said "I have
to be polite to customers, no matter what they say to me." Warwick
In a martial arts class I assist at there is a 7 year old boy who is very inquisitive, outspoken and curious. He questions nearly everything me and the instructor say but neither of us get the impression that he's trying to be rude. It's just how he is and I personally think it's awesome that he's self confident enough at such a young age to speak his mind. Once he saw another student's mother having a cigarette after the lesson and said "Smoking makes your lungs go black. Why do you do it?" The mother took it with a smile and a shrug and said to me "I'm getting told off". The lad is fascinated by nearly everything and his mind works overtime to understand what's going on around him. No one suppresses his desire for information, (even though he gets told off like anyone else if he actually breaks the rules). He's not told he's cheeky, or insolent or "answering back" because he isn't. He just wants to know.